I heard a radio commercial today that made me wish there were DVR’s for radio. In the world of marketing, there has been a lot of talk about word of mouth marketing (WOM), empowering customer evangelists, harnessing the viral power of the web, etc. So, when I heard a Boar’s Head commercial about the old “flim flam”, I couldn’t resist visiting the website. Here’s a quick rundown. Boar’s Head is an industry leader, has top notch products, and has a long and proud history. About 20 years ago (according to their website), they started hearing about the old “flim flam”, where a deli owner would show Boar’s Head in the deli case, but then use some cheap deli meat when actually making your sandwich. How could they, right? Anyway, Boar’s Head is unfortunately seeing this trend again today…but they have decided not to sit back and let it happen. But are they fighting back? Are they sending their own Boar’s Head police to delis across the United States? No, they are relying on their loyal customers to defend their brand. I love it! Customers can call an 800 number and report any deli that pulls the old flim flam. In return for being such a loyal customer, Boar’s Head will reward you. With what? I have no idea, but I’m assuming they don’t want the program to be taken advantage of, so you’ll find out your reward after calling in. I think this is a brilliant program by Boar’s Head. Actually, I like it so much that I’m going to keep writing! ;-)
Empowering Customers to Defend Your Brand and Products
Now, if you’ve ever had someone misrepresent you or your products, then you know how icky of a feeling it is. I don’t blame Boar’s Head for trying to take control of this situation. Actually, I love that Boar’s Head can rely on loyal customers, I love that they’ve earned those loyal customers, and that they are providing a mechanism for their army of meat lovers to help defend the brand they’ve worked tirelessly to build. Yes, I said army of meat lovers. Think about it in terms of your own business. Let’s say that you suddenly heard that retailers were misrepresenting your brand, promising your product and then providing some cheaper version manufactured by a lesser company. Not good, right? You get angry, call your lawyers, and swear you’ll find each and every retailer doing this. Then it hits you…there’s no way you can. There is no way you can scale your small legion of in-house do-gooders. But what if you had a loyal following of customers? What if they cared enough about you and your product that they will call out those retailers? That’s right, Jane Saunders, age 78, calling out a retail owner for not providing the right product or brand. She walks up with her cane and tears into the owner, pulling out her Blackberry Pearl and calling up your customer service center to report the immoral business owner. How powerful is that? Now, that’s an army of do-gooders that can scale! There is a catch, though…you need to have made your customers very happy over the years to earn their duty. If you didn’t provide the best possible product, service, and understanding over the years, then you’d have no army. You would be giving your Patton-like speech to the sound of crickets. So now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Do my customers like my products (and company) enough to defend them and did I earn their trust over the years?” Well Patton, now’s your moment of truth. :)
Be Like Boar’s Head and Empower Your Army of Customer Evangelists
Thinking about your specific business, can a program like this help you? Can it really help protect your brand, while empowering customers, all while ensuring the quality of your products? Pretty powerful stuff if you could, right? Start to think about how you can build a program like this. What’s the cost? What reward would you give to your loyal army of customer evangelists? Is it that easy? Is it ridiculously hard? Will it backfire? These are all good questions and I’m not sure I can answer them here. But, how beautiful would that be? How confident would you feel to know that thousands of customers have your back when someone tries to do you wrong. Do you stop at protecting your products or do you ask for help in protecting your reputation, too? Is it purely offline, online, or a mixture of both? Do you provide levels to your brand protection program? Can customers build up their profiles as customer evangelists? Can they earn your version of a black belt? Sensei? Master of your brand? How far will your customers go to help you and your brand?
Do You Believe in Fighting the Flim Flam?
I applaud Boar’s Head for taking these measures and empowering their loyal customers. They deserve a loyal following and they’ve worked hard to earn one over the years. I’d like to find out how the program is doing, is it working, have they found anyone taking advantage of the program, and does senior management really buy into customer evangelism? How can those answers help your business? Yes, Boar’s Head has built their army of deli meat loyalists, but I have to ask you…can you build yours? I’ve posed many questions in this post on purpose and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is Flim Flam a crazy attempt by Boar’s Head or a brilliant move that will earn more customers?
The floor is yours.